Some time back I heard the hype and arguments from varying viewpoints surrounding the teen suicide Netflix drama ‘13 Reasons Why’ and unless you were living in a bubble at the time, the likelihood is that you have too.
I have heard people swear by it as an “educational resource” and others hate its mere existence (which many mental health groups and educational institutions have claimed glorify suicide and are consequently dangerous). I have also watched much of the series myself (although I opted out of some of the more graphic scenes in line with issued warnings and with awareness around my own vulnerabilities).
I am a mental health consumer who has been hospitalized for depression and anxiety in both public and private hospitals and as such think I can provide a unique viewpoint and voice on this topic.
It’s a fierce debate but I offer you a mutual and hopefully productive ground.
Irrespective of whether you think the ’13 Reasons Why’ series is of merit in terms of prompting tough discussions (because let’s face it silence can and does kill!) what we can all agree on for the most part is that suicide is not the answer.
Having said that, in the past I have sadly experienced times when finding a solution to ending my emotional pain and torment seemed an attractive offering (regardless of the human and personal cost as well as ramifications for my loved ones).
During those dark days I walked in troubling shoes battling troubling demons. Of course the mind that told me to die was the mind of my illness and when I’m healthy I know better. Today I am grateful to have lived to tell the tale of overcoming suicidal thoughts and ideations. I’m living proof that you can come out of the other side of such adverse emotional anguish a stronger survivor with a greater sense of perspective and appreciation than ever before.
But in case there is anyone out there reading who is genuinely thinking that suicide is an easy solution to their current or ongoing woes (for absolutely any reason irrespective of watching the teen drama series on Netflix) I encourage you to read my 13 Reasons Why You Need To Live (and never give up hope).
- Things in your life can improve. Step by step, day by day… you can and will find a path through the pain and darkness and again experience moments of life that make all that effort worthwhile, ten- fold. Recovery is not only possible with hard work, determination and the right support it’s probable. So talk to a trusted doctor, counsellor, friend or family member today!
- What seems like a massive deal in your life today may not mean as much tomorrow… least of all in ten years from now. If you are thinking of acting impulsively in haste try to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Perspective is a wonderful thing.
- Supports are available to you even if it means swallowing some pride to actively seek them out. Embrace your lifelines because your very survival may just depend on it.
- You only get one life. Think of all the things in your life you hoped you would one day accomplish, hang onto those dreams. You can still bring them to life. Give yourself that chance.
- Suicide is a permanent solution to what is often a temporary problem. Find your protective factors and embrace them. If you’d find it hard to say a final goodbye to someone in particular- it’s not your time to do so. Reach out to someone you love and trust.
- You are loved, even when you can’t feel it. Believe me when I say your loved ones would not recover if they lost you to suicide.
- There are damaging ramifications of grief and guilt left behind for everyone close to you, forever. If no one cared about your wellbeing this very piece you are reading would not exist. You are unique. There’s only one you and your heart beats with purpose. It’s only request in return is to allow it to keep beating… is that too much to ask?
- You deserve to give yourself a fighting chance at a future which will could bring with it health and happiness. You are worthy. You are loved. You’ve survived your very worst of days to get here. You can do it again.
- Take it from someone who has hit rock bottom…. the only way is up.
- As much as it hurts to live right now the pain will not be permanent. Be brave enough to seek help and take each day as it comes. A long journey starts with just one small step, and a will to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
- Dark patches in life make the good days that much brighter. When you are well you will see this new found appreciation of mediocrity and sunlight. The sun will shine as though it was put there for you and you’ll feel those warm rays across your face and remember just how lucky you are.
- You are an amazing unique gift in this world. Never waste your talents, your viewpoint and all you have to offer. There’s literally no one in the world the very same as you. That makes you irreplaceable.
- You are someone’s child/ parent/ brother / sister or friend (or even a pet’s owner). They need you. Their life would not be the same without you. They depend on you as much as you depend on yourself. Be your own fierce as hell warrior and beacon of hope (as well as theirs). And if you’re looking for the one person in the world who can change your life forever, feel your pulse and take a look in the mirror.
From someone who has experienced crippling lows of depression and anxiety I know that sometimes living feels like the fight of your life. And there are no guarantees a way forward will be easy or obstacle free. BUT it was a wise man who once said, “The path with few obstacles is seldom worth travelling.”
You literally only get one chance in this world so believe me when I say the fight is worth it. Recovery may be exhausting, hard and even unfathomable at times…. but the alternative is always much worse. Suicide is not an alternative to pain, it’s an alternative to living. Suicide is never the answer. Nope, never.
If you need a gentle reminder, print this off and pin it your wall. May it light a spark or flicker of hope and fire in your belly that you can push through this. Together, we can do this. YOU can do this. YOU MUST DO THIS.
I’m not convinced this Netflix series is of educational importance nor do I swear by its mere existence but I think it certainly opens up a forum for conversation. Suicide is real and the rates in Australia are ridiculously high. That’s a fact that there’s no denying… We should all be aware and do our bit to reduce the stigma and taboo around mental health challenges.
Stay safe and brave my friends (and virtual friends) from far and wide and reach out for help where and when you need it (both for yourself and those you love and know). Be kind and compassionate with your actions and words. And most importantly remember that every single one of us is worthy. And never forget our heart beats just for us…
If you need support in Australia right now, call Lifeline on 13 11 14
Or seek out immediate services as outlined by Beyond Blue at https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/get-immediate-support